Baseball: Burlington Central outlasts HampshireHampshire'sBrandon Wescher slides into thirdbase safely before Burlington Central's Cody Wallace has the ball on Monday in Burlington. | Karen Naess ~ For Sun-Times Media
The Burlington Central-Hampshire rivalry was alive and well in baseball Monday, even with both teams in different conferences, Hampshire coach John Sarna gone due to illness, and the Rockets ahead 8-1 after two innings.
Hampshire rallied within a run, and a wild squeeze play that led to two ejections preceded Central’s seven-run explosion in thef fifth inning that resulted in a 15-8 Rockets victory at home.
“It was a crazy game,” said Hampshire assistant Steve Knapp, who was acting head coach.
After Hampshire rallied within 8-7, the Rockets scored six runs off reliever Mike Dumoulin and another off reliever Kyle Carbone in the fifth inning thanks largely to a two-run single by Blake Alexander, who also had a second-inning solo home run and four RBI for the game. But it wasn’t that simple.
Hampshire tried a suicide squeeze to tie it in the top of the fifth after it scored on Michael Laramie’s RBI single and Mario Guerrero’s sacrifice fly to center to get within 8-6. Laramie got caught in a rundown on the missed squeeze bunt attempt and was out at home in a collision that caused assistant coach Ryan Lyle and head coach Kyle Nelson to run onto the field in protest that Laramie had been too physical with a block he threw into Central catcher Tanner Scott trying to jar the ball loose.
Umpires tossed Lyle, then, after deliberating, ejected Laramie from the game, too. And then Jacob Kuhn a few pitches later blasted a home run to left to get the Rockets within 8-7. Without the failed squeeze, it would have been tied.
“After that (homer) you can always look back on it in hindsight and maybe I’d wish I never called that bunt and the whole thing would have never happened,” Knapp said. “But that’s baseball.”
Central simply went back to work by loading the bases in its half of the fifth. Then Dumoulin hit Zach Ranney to score a run and Riley Jensen singled in Cody Wallace, who had doubled. Scott hit an RBI single and after Kyle Carbone came on in relief of Dumoulin, Alexander hit a two-run single. Two more runs scored on the Whip-Purs’ fourth error of the game.
“Sometimes when emotions run high like that you lose focus on what you need to do,” Nelson said. “Our guys did a good job after some of that happened of just kind of refocusing and playing baseball.”
It was easy when the Rockets thought about their two losses to Hampshire last year, including a season-ending defeat in the playoffs.
“Especially after last year when we lost to them, we had to come out and prove a point, that we were a dominant team,” Alexander said. “Then when they came back, I was like, ‘this can’t happen again, it happened once (last year) and we can’t let it happen again.’”
Central’s lead was so big originally after Alexander and Scott launched solo home runs to left field off starter and loser Jeremy Gogoel (0-1) in the second, and after the Rockets (14-6) had scored six in the first.
Ranney led the inning off with a triple and scored on Jensen’s RBI single, then Goegel walked three straight batters for a run, and allowed Michael Scott’s two-run double before Wallace drove in the last run on a ground out.
Ranney (5-0) got the win despite allowing nine hits in six innings. Central committed five errors but still won for the seventh time in eight games.
Kuhn went 2-for-3 with an RBI, Justin Thinger 2-for-4 with an RBI, Tyler Crater 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Laramie 2-for-3 with two RBI for Hampshire (7-11-1), which has lost eight in a row.
For Central, Alexander (2-for-3, 4 RBI, 3 runs), Tanner Scott (3-for-4, 3 runs, 2 RBI), Michael Scott (2-for-4, 2 RBI), and Jensen (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI) led the way in an 11-hit attack.